Blogsite Newsletter June 2009

Posted Jun 1, 2009

June 1, 2009

Another long blog hiatus, half a year.  This hiatus grew out of old projects I wanted to complete — over limited and limiting computer skills.  (R2D2!  Where are you when I need you?)  Plus at my age (I turned 82 last summer), one's point of view/priorities/importances/values — and energy level! — change.  Därför har jag blivit latthund nu för tiden (So I've gotten lazy nowadays), quite able to sit back and read for pleasure — most recently Lois McMasters Bujold's marvelous Sharing Knife tetralogy.  And before that, Patricia Briggs' most recent (in her Mercy Thompson series), with a superb cover — a book that earned her another appearance on the NY Times best-seller list!
Meanwhile I've reworked ARMFELT, and sent it off to Linn, my agent. 
     Well and good, John, you might well say, but what's going on with THE SIGNATURE OF GOD? 
Good question, longish answer.  A condensed reply is: nothing remunerative.  Linn (my agent) has declined to represent it.  And therein lies a lesson: Back when I was still self-agented, Baen declined SIGNATURE, so at ConVersion, in 2005, I pitched it to Tom Doherty, founder and CEO of Tor Books (who'd published several of my early novels).  The editor who read it at Tor told me he'd recommended it for publication.  Then the publisher/marketing chief did the inevitable review of sales statistics and declined it, saying he'd have bought it if the prequel (THE SECOND COMING, Baen 2004) had done better.  (Weak sales of a prequel seriously prejudices bookstore chains, which have no shortage of other books to display in its stead.) 
     I mentioned to Baen's Toni Weisskopf (my long-time editor, who was promoted to publisher there after Jim's recent death) that Tom would have bought SIGNATURE if 2d COMING had sold better.  Toni replied that no, he wouldn't have. 
     Startled, I asked: "Why do you say that?" 
"Because if COMING had sold better, we'd have bought it."
     And therein lies a lesson, Grasshopper, about publishing.  Also a subsidiary lesson, which is self-evident, if you think about it: agents do not get paid by the hour — or the week, or the number of doors they bang their heads against — but by a percentage of what the book earns.  And if it doesn't bring in a contract…no commission. 
     Meanwhile Toni reverted the rights to COMING to me, as out of print.
     So.  What next?  I just completed another draft of both COMING and SIGNATURE, and figure to email pdf copies of both novels broadly, at no charge, inviting recipients to pass them on to anyone they think might find them interesting.  And inviting comments.  I've written up this strange concept, mailed it to a handful of friends, and discussed it over fine beverages with a couple of them at MisCon, a science fiction convention, on the Memorial Day weekend in Missoula MT. 
     The publishing world's a-changin', with new frontiers dimly perceived, evolving in the direction of new possibilities.  Who knows?  I may sell them boogers yet. 

Health-wise I'm basically sound — minor pump malfunction (slight aortic valve leak); carburation problems (mild emphysema); a balky search engine — senior moments (nothing out of the ordinary); and "benign essential tremor" ("benign" because it's not Parkinson's; "esssential" because it's…huh? I could do without it!), that turns on particularly when I'm tired, and does not help my typing.  Oh!  And a weak generator and a leaky battery.  But life proceeds nicely nonetheless, observing, evolving, learning to love, along with the growing understanding that 27 novels published ain't 'arf bad — 27 servings of entertainment, observation, and ideas.  Lots of folks find pleasure in interesting ideas and ways of looking at things.

Meanwhile I wish thee all the best.  Thou art dear to me.

John Dalmas, aka Dad, Grampa, Cousin Jerry and Onkel Sven
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